The Final Sprint
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“The Final Sprint,” New Era, June 2018

The Final Sprint

Ever dream of winning a national championship? So did cross-country runner Aidan Troutner. But did he have a chance?

Finish Together

Photographs by Richard M. Romney

Aidan Troutner, 18, from Timpview High School in Provo, Utah, figured he could race well at the Nike Cross-country Nationals (NXN) in Portland, Oregon. But no one figured he really had a chance to win the individual championship—until it came to the final sprint.

Aidan entered the meet, he says, “under the radar.” Several other runners were predicted to win. “But that’s one of the goals I had this season, not to worry about other people so much, just to focus on my own time and training, improving myself. The Lord gives us talents, but He expects us to put in the work.”

Worth the Work

And Aidan had worked, hard. Training and competing from June through November had enabled him to win first place in both the Utah 5A high school championship and the Southwest Regionals.

“I had confidence in myself, because I knew I was prepared,” he says. “The Lord expects us to act, not to be acted upon [see 2 Nephi 2:13].”

He also knew that a couple of other Latter-day Saints were running, too. “So, just before the race began, we gathered together for prayer. We asked Heavenly Father to help everyone run to the best of their abilities. We said our prayer, then the starting gun went off and we were on our way.”

Aidan followed the strategy his coach had mapped out with him. He stayed in 4th position through most of the race. Then, with about 600 meters to go, he made his move. “It wasn’t until then that I realized I could really win it,” he remembers. “With 200 meters left, I took the lead and cruised to the finish line.” He had paced himself, and he had finished strong.

Finish Together, Finish Strong

Sharing Time

Aidan received a lot of recognition for his performance. “One of the greatest blessings I had was the number of people I got to talk to about the gospel,” he says. “Especially after the race, people wanted to know more about me, what I was doing after high school, and where I was going to college. I told them I’m going on a mission and then I’m going to BYU. It was an amazing blessing to talk to people who didn’t know much about the gospel.”

Aidan also finds that running has reinforced gospel principles for him.

“We had a lesson just last Sunday about self-reliance,” he says. “One of the key things we talked about was that self-reliance implies that you do it yourself, but in truth, we can’t do anything without our Savior Jesus Christ. That’s the way we become truly self-reliant—to rely on Him to ease our burdens. As applied to running, that means I couldn’t have done this by myself. I needed the help of teammates, coaches, and my family, just like each of us needs the help of the Savior.”